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Susannah Charleson Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Scent of the Missing (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Possibility Dogs (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Where the Lost Dogs Go (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Susannah Charleson

Susannah Charleson is a non-fiction author who writes stories that cannot fail to tug the strings of our hearts. Her special focus of rescued and working rescue dogs is one that draws us all in.

Since 1981, Ms. Charleson has been writing professionally with various themes and publications. The list is long and impressive; she calls herself a “free-range writer.” Newsletter and magazines, PSAs, commercials, and news stories; the esoteric variety is interesting. Radio and television news reporting with traffic and weather, a vintage jewelry store catalog, and the top spot of hosting a Dallas-area television program focusing on entertainment and arts showcase her range and abilities.

When not writing, the most fascinating part of her life her work as a K9 search-and-rescue handler/trainer. Ms. Charleson works with a special focus on the protocol for the special-needs missing. Those with cognitive disabilities and the elderly are the most at risk.

The tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995, was the catalyst for Ms. Charleson. A newspaper photo showed the the real cost of working as a canine handler in a situation of this extreme degree of tragedy. The handler in the photo, exhausted and undoubtedly demoralized from working the site, had his search-and-rescue dog with him with his face buried in the fur of his partner. It was obvious the comfort they gave each other at this horrible time.

She is a dog lover and an experienced pilot. She was so impacted by this gritty, honest image of the cost of this tragedy, Ms. Charleson decided to volunteer as a search and rescue worker too. When she started she learned firsthand how the pay was nonexistent, the hours were long and hard, and too often, the results were heart-wrenching. But she stuck with it.

First she had to become qualified to train her partner. Puzzle, a Golden Retriever puppy, was her first search partner. He showed special abilities and aptitudes to be a search dog. His happy life was working and searching rather than being a house pup. This brilliant dog was certified in rescuing in the disaster, wilderness, and urban situations and certified in what is call “scent discrimination & trailing” searches.

Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog, (published in April 2010), is her first book. It’s the story of Puzzle and Susannah working together with various searches. The search for an Alzheimer’s patient who was lost in the cold, a lost teen, and searching amid the Columbia space shuttle debris in early 2003 showcased the variety and challenges they faced.

Ms. Charleson shares with us the mystery of the unique bond that occurs between dogs and their humans. (Scent of the Missing was optioned for television in 2010 by CBS Productions.) Dr. Temple Grandin, a well respected authority on the management of animals in a commercial setting (as well as writing about her experience as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome and how it helps her understand the viewpoint of the animals) praised Scent of the Missing as a story all people interested in training service dogs should read.

Ms. Charleson’s next book, The Possibility Dogs, looks into the interaction of dogs who aid humans with disabilities of the emotional and psychiatric type. These diseases and disabilities are rarely seen by the eye, but are deeply felt by those who are affected by these conditions. These are stories based less on research than a memoir.

This journey is a personal one for Ms. Charleson, as she became affected with post-traumatic stress disorder. For months after an especially gruesome search, she was emotionally overwhelmed. Puzzle, her search dog, her partner throughout her rescue work, was the key to her healing.

With the knowledge of her personal healing experience with her dog, she decided to look for abandoned dogs with healing potential. Her search allowed her to be the difference in their lives at the last moment before they were to be put down. These discarded furry friends showed they had intelligence and sensitivity and were able to connect to bring hope and comfort to those who are in need.

Ms. Charleson doesn’t try to use science to tell us why this works. She simply tells the stories of the dogs. Shocking rescues, like the black lab puppy Merlin, found in a garbage bag, is able to stave-off his person’s panic attacks. Jake Piper went from dumped to being essential. He was found, starving and abused, but this pit bull mix became the partner someone needed more than he needed them. Precious Ollie, a little terrier, rescued at the moment he would be put down because he is deaf and blind, is able to bring comfort to children experiencing stress and fear.

Where the Lost Dogs Go: A Story of Love, Search and the Power of Reunion will strongly pull at the heart of anyone who has lost a dog. After many years of doing search and rescue, Ms. Charleson turns to the lost pets. Statistically one in six dogs go missing, leaving owners in tears, anxiously searching, hanging missing posters, and constantly checking the shelters.

Ms. Charleson works to reunite best friends and see the tails wagging; she and her working furry buddies become the instrument of happy endings. When she suffers her own heart-breaking loss, her golden retriever and Ace, a last-chance rescue dog, are instrumental in helping her to heal her grief.

Ace, a cheerful Maltese mix with, as is typical of shelter dogs, who have secret histories, was found after months of wandering and simply trying to survive. Ace proved to have a nose for lost pets, picking up their scent. After training, he helped search alongside strangers and neighbors for lost furry family members.

Ms. Charleson studies canine behavior, social media methods, psychology of loss, and search techniques and tactics for finding lost pets. This story is an homage to those missing dogs, the searchers, and the ones that are fortunate to be found.

A crowd of rescued critters keeps Ms. Charleson company at home. Cats, dogs, and chickens, many with special needs, are a source of inspiration. One is special- Ruff Draft- as he is on wheels.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Susannah Charleson

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